Tips for job interviews for software developers
This post is a follow up to Rafael’s post on how to tailor a nice CV for developers. If you did not read it yet, then go ahead and do it.
This post is based on my experiences interviewing and hiring people and also being interviewed.
After getting it right with your CV and applying for the position you are aiming for you will get an invite for an interview. This is the time to shine and show the real you and why you should get the position.
Prepare yourself before the interview
Try to catch up with what the company you are applying to is doing. Check their website and their presence online. If you are applying for a position where you would deal with their website, let’s say an e-commerce for example, you could even try to think about some improvements that could be done.
You can subscribe to their services, when that’s the case, and check how things are and, again, think about possible improvements. Understanding the business is important and is needed before getting your hands on code. So, try to put yourself on the customer’s shoes. This will also help with one of the topics next on this text, about asking questions.
Do not be late
This is a simple one and maybe it should not even be here, but I still see it happening all the time. Do not be late to the interview and if you have to be late because of anything that happened, let the company know it as earlier as possible.
Being late can tell a lot about a candidate and no matter how good the candidate is it will be bad on the overall analysis.
Ask questions too
This is a common mistake I see. Some candidates have the idea that an interview is a one way street where only the company will ask questions. Remember that an interview is also your chance to know more about the company and it’s culture. So, again, prepare yourself for the interview by learning more about the company, ask questions like “What am I going to work with?”, “What are the challenges the team is facing currently?”, “Which methodologies are used by the team?”, “Which tools are used?”. It is even more interesting to ask how the company is doing financially, if it is already profitable etc.
Just think about the things that may be interesting for you to know before joining the company and ask them. I see this as positive and that the candidate is not interested only in code but also on the structure of company.
Stay calm and comfortable
I know interviews can be stressful, specially if a major life decision depends on getting the job or not (like moving to a new city or country or even leaving a stable job that you have for years now), but staying calm is important. When you stay calm you can better answer the questions they ask you and you can ask better questions.
A candidate that sounds too nervous can be removed from the process because the communication will be harder and the answers can be not nice.
If you really want a job at that company you always dreamed about, it could be better to apply to other jobs before and practice doing some interviews. There is nothing wrong in doing so and since you may be less nervous you can actually find another good position in another company.
Tips for online interviews
Nowadays lots of interviews, specially for developers, are done online, usually via VoIP apps or even using video. This usually solves the issue of being late because of traffic, but creates other issues that can be annoying and sometimes even make it impossible for people to understand each other.
Be sure to have a good internet connection for the interview. Having the voice failing will lead to situations where you may not understand a question and say something out of context or the interviewer not understanding your answer. If you cannot have access to a reliable connection, then be sure to explain it before the interview and even try to look for alternative ways to have the interview, like a phone call, for example.
Use headphones and a good microphone. External sound will distract you and the interviewer. Using headphones alone will even prevent echoes on the call and make it easier to understand the questions.
Stay in a quiet place. Try everything you can to stay in a quiet place during the interview. I already interviewed people while they walked on a crowded street and it was really hard to have them understanding my questions and for me to understand their answers.
I would say for online interviews the most important thing is to really be sure you will make yourself understood and will understand the interviewer, so, pay attention to that.
Learn from your experiences
If you are constantly failing at interviews you can ask the companies what was the reason for dropping you from the process and then learn from it. Think about job interviews as yet another skill you need to master. Being a good engineer and a good professional will take you to good places, but you need to be able to communicate and present your tech skills and this is also a skill.
So, these are my tips for how to behave on an interview. Good luck on getting that job you want.